India Inc urges further easing of restrictions1 min read . Updated: 18 May 2020, 12:17 AM IST
Companies need to identify the work that can be delivered from home and that which requires staff on site
Business leaders on Sunday urged the Centre to ease restrictions on industrial activity further, despite the extension to the lockdown. Else, the economic stimulus measures might lose their impact, they added.
“I hope that the zones where business has started are expanded and supply chains can start working," said Vikram Kirloskar, president, Confederation of Indian Industry and vice-chairman, Toyota Kirloskar Motor India. Though many industries including auto firms have resumed operations in the past two weeks, the process has been slow, as firms are working with only a fraction of their workforce due to social distancing norms and logistical issues. “Demand is very low. Most of our dealers and suppliers are in red zones; so, we can’t do much," Kirloskar said. Though the Centre opened up red zones to economic activities, and inter- and intra-state movement of passenger vehicles during Lockdown 4.0, containment zones will remain out of bounds to all non-essential activity.
Deepak Sood, secretary general, Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said the government probably intends to relax lockdown curbs in a staggered manner to avoid a flare-up in infections.
The decisions on easing curbs are going to depend more on state governments in coming weeks, he added.
“There can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach. This is the phase where the economy has to start. At least in areas where there are no red zones. It is important for normal activity to start," Sood said. “No matter how much stimulus you give, unless the economy does not start and sustain itself, it will not be sustainable growth. The more you delay, the more problem you will have in expanding."
On Sunday, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced new steps to create a conducive environment for businesses. Earlier, she announced a host of measures to help small and medium firms, besides policy aid for farmers and migrant workers. “Industrial activity is bound to pick up...However, getting people to factories will remain a challenge for now," said M.S. Unnikrishnan, managing director and chief executive, Thermax.
Rhik Kundu contributed to this story.